Romans 7:13–25 (NKJV)
13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.Romans 7:13-20
Paul is here sharing his frustrations concerning his own failure to avoid sin. He wants to be holy, and is striving to live in a way that only glorifies God. Yet, he still sins and fails to follow the law of God. The things he wants to do he fails to do, and the things he never wants to do, he ends up doing. Sin is relentless, seeking out opportunities to trip up the believer. His frustration is something with which every reader can identify, and helps us to see that the struggle is real for each of us.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!Romans 7:21-25
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Paul’s frustration reaches a boiling point, as he cries out for help with his weakness and failure. He does not lash out, but he cries out. What an appropriate response to confusion and frustration with weakness and sin! He does not blame God, nor others, but cries out for help. He identifies himself and his sin as the problem (“O wretched man that I am!”). He asks for help (“Who will deliver me from this body of death?”). He then identifies the source of his help and his strength (“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”). He realizes that this struggle will be ongoing, yet he presses on. This is a recurring theme with Paul. With all the good he has done, and the successes he has enjoyed, Paul still sees room for improvement, space for sanctification. Let us follow God with a holy heart, dedicated to Him, but yet realize the fallibility of man and seek to be forgiven and strengthened when we are weak. When you ask yourself why you do what you do, don’t get hung up on the question or the problem. Instead, turn your attention to the solution, Jesus Christ!